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Native Coptic speakers?

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I have read that there are some Coptic speakers who speak Coptic as their mother tongue. Obviously this is wonderful and a very interesting subject. Does anyone have any links to these people? Interviews? Videos? Audio clips? Do they use the Old Bohairic pronunciation or the reformed one?

Also, I have heard of people in remote areas of Egypt that never stopped speaking Coptic. These people would have the most accurate pronunciation possible for us to know - and if they exist they would PROVE that Coptic never died as a language, not even by the conservative academic standards for a language being "dead."

I do not live in Egypt, but if any Egyptians here could find such people who have kept an unbroken lineage of Coptic alive, it would be a great service to the revitalization of the language, to publicize such findings.

Ekhrestos anesty
Dear Anok,
By any linguistic definition the Coptic language is not dead..


I agree! But some claim that it did die, in the 17th century, saying that nobody learned it as their first language. It will be helpful to prove that this is wrong, to revitalize the language.

People keep saying that it is dead... I know you have heard this many times. And when people keep reading this, they will be less likely to learn. They will say "why should I learn a dead language?" Dead is a terrible word.

So it is good to gather evidence to say, "No, look; Coptic is alive. Come learn it." That is what I am looking for.

I'd love to hear more about what you're looking to do.

My understanding is that the traditional lineage of speaking Coptic had its last traces in Zeneya which is a village near Luxor, and Dabeyya. They use old bohairic pronunciation, which probably means that the heritage is related to church, and to the best of my knowledge it is few sentences, rather than a whole revival.

The other part which is more famous are two families, the family of Claudius Labib (1868-1918), who is a person who dedicated his life to Coptic language; he was one of the pioneer Egyptians to study ancient Egyptian. He published piakhomfat, brought the first coptic printer, published the first print version of Midnight Vespers and the mass, in addition to parts of Difnar in Coptic, and the first Coptic-arabic dictionary which he died before finishing the final 4 letters. His dictionary predated  W E Crum's dictionary (1939). His pronunciation was Greco-Bohairic following Iryan Moftah. With respect to syntax, the usage of coptic seemed to be more liberal than traditional bohairic dialect and different in syntax. With respect to vocabulary there were two directions that could be easily inferred from his language. The first is his aversion to the usage of Greek loan words in Coptic language. A glaring example is:
ϧⲉⲛ ⲫⲣⲁⲛ ⲙ̀ⲫⲓⲱⲧ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲓ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲡⲓⲛⲓϥⲓ ⲉⲑⲟⲩⲁⲃ ⲟⲩⲛⲟⲩϯ ⲛ̀ⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲉⲥⲉϣⲱⲡⲓ.
He worked hard to attempt to purify the language from the hellenistic influence on it; though he did not attempt to replace the Greek letters with demotic ones. The second is the establishment of coined words and new words to represent new inventions. His books focused on Coptic as a daily language. It was said that his family spoke Coptic at home. There were no clear explanation of how these words were coined and some established terms lacked etymology, which made the process of coining on his way difficult. The dictionary also mentioned words for which no clear etymology was mentioned.

The other important family is the family of Pisenti Rizkalla, who was said to have been taught by Claudius Labib. Pisenti taught his family coptic. It is said that even the in-laws of his family had to learn Coptic to speak it at home with them. He also publised books and taught Coptic in the same manner of Claudius Labib making use of some coined words, referring to the same dictionary and using a liberal form of bohairic and relying on Greco-bohairic pronunciation. The in-laws of the family were Maurice AbdelMessih, Abba Demetrios, Fr Pigol Bassili. All of them share passion and devotion to Coptic language, and they are critical of old bohairic pronunciation.

The existence of these families inspires hope and sends a powerful message that Coptic can be used as a daily language, however, the usage of Greco-Bohairic pronunciation, liberal grammatical structure, and an array of neologisms renders the whole language to be better classified as a distinct arbitary dialect in its own virtue. 


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